This fascinating book examines what sixteen radical and conservative, famous and notorious British women wrote about their sex in the 1790s.
It offers the most comprehensive survey of what they thought about their fellow women with regard to love, sexual desire and marriage; their domestic roles and their engagement in the 'public' sphere; and issues of gender and female abilities including sensibility and genius.
How contemporary reviewers divided women writers into 'unsex'd' and 'proper' is investigated, as is the issue of whether they attempted to exclude women from certain kinds of writing.
The book reveals the depth of female complaint but contends that women did not passively submit.
Conservative and radicals alike sought to extend their sphere of activity, to reform men, challenge gender stereotypes and propose that a woman should be a self for herself and her God rather than for her husband. -- .